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Nature can deliver on the SDGs

Brendan Fisher, Diego Herrera, Diane Adams, Helen E. Fox, Louise Gallagher, Drew Gerkey, David Gill, Christopher D. Golden, David Hole, Kiersten Johnson, Mark Mulligan, Samuel S. Myers, Robin Naidoo, Alexander Pfaff, Ranaivo Rasolofoson, Elizabeth Selig, David Tickner, Timothy Treuer, Taylor Ricketts
Lancet Planetary Health

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The increasing availability of data and improved analytic techniques now enable us to better understand when and where investing in nature can deliver net benefits for people − especially with respect to the most vulnerable populations in developing countries. These advances open the door for efficient interventions that can advance multiple SDGs at once. Recently, we harmonized a suite of global datasets to explore the critical nexus of forests, poverty and human health – an overlap of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6 and 15. Our approach combined demographic and health surveys for 297,112 children in 35 developing countries with data describing the local environmental conditions for each child4 (Fig. 1a; see online materials for details). This allowed us to estimate the effect forests may play in supporting human health, while controlling for the influence of important socio-economic differences. We extended this work to look at how forests affect three childhood health concerns of global significance – stunting, anemia, and diarrheal disease.

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